Thailand, Australia record first coronavirus-related deaths

Thailand and Australia both reported their first fatalities connected to coronavirus on Sunday, as infections soared beyond 3,500 in South Korea and deaths in China inched closer to 3,000.

Suwannachai Watthanayingcharoenchai, director-general of Thailand’s Department of Disease Control, told reporters that the 35-year-old victim was initially hospitalized for malaria and later tested positive for the coronavirus. He died of multiple organ failure.

Suwannachai said officials were still investigating the role played by the respiratory disease in the man’s death since he subsequently tested negative but was still suffering from the damage it had caused.

Western Australia’s Chief Health Officer Andrew Robertson confirmed the 78-year-old victim, who contracted the coronavirus along with his wife on-board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, died at Perth’s Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital early Sunday morning.

He was diagnosed ten days earlier while in isolation at Howard Springs, after having been quarantined for two weeks aboard the Diamond Princess of Yokohama, Japan.

His wife, also in her 70s, was diagnosed with the virus a few days ago and remains in stable condition in hospital, Dr Robertson said.

South Korea meanwhile reported 595 new coronavirus infections in the country, bringing the total confirmed cases to 3,526 – with 3,479 cases in isolation – including 18 deaths, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC).

The outbreak is the largest outside China, where the novel coronavirus began spreading in December 2019.

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China reported 35 new deaths and 573 new confirmed cases of the Covid-19 disease caused by the coronavirus on Sunday, in figures released by the National Health Commission.

The new additions bring the total death toll across China to 2,870, and the total number of confirmed cases to almost 80,000.

Of the new cases, 570 were in Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak. The province in central China was also where 34 of the new deaths were recorded.

The new coronavirus has spread to countries across the globe and killed more than 2,900 people worldwide since the outbreak began in the city of Wuhan in Hubei in December.

In Taiwan, which recorded its 40th case on Sunday, authorities said they had raised the country’s warning level for travel to Iran due to the rapid increase in coronavirus cases and the high percentage of fatalities in the country.

As a result, citizens are advised against unnecessary travel to Iran and travellers arriving from there to Taiwan will be required to carry out home quarantine for 14 days.

Iran has reported 593 coronavirus cases and 43 deaths, the fourth-largest outbreak outside of China and the most deaths recorded anywhere outside of Hubei province.


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